Location: 1901 10 Ave. SW, Calgary
Cuisine: Craft beer and pizza
Atmosphere: Casual, bright and airy
Drinks on offer: Beer, wine, limited cocktails, and chocolate milk (on tap!)
Best bets: Prvni pilsner, raspberry pie sour, saporita pizza, chicken alfredo pizza
Vegetarian friendly? Yes
Additional information: Plenty of seating, both indoors and outdoors, but limited parking so be prepared to walk a block or two if you can’t snag a spot in the back alley.
Few things in life go together as seamlessly as pizza and beer, and few cities in Canada seem to love the pairing as much as Calgary. It’s only natural in a region with no shortage of barley and located in the bread basket. But with so many options, is there room for more?
The pairing of Two House Brewing Company and Acme Pizza Co. together in Calgary’s Sunalta neighbourhood is stronger than the sum of its parts, even with a fairly bare-bones interior design and some misses on the menu.
Opened on the site of the former Mikey’s Juke Joint – which has long since relocated to 12th Avenue SW – Two House stands out with its stark white and black exterior. The brewery’s name pays homage to its former, short-lived location on the other end of Sunalta.
While Two House manages the beverage side of things by way of table service and bar service, Acme is ordered and paid for via QR code at the table or at the brewery’s main entrance.
It’s hard to really impress with craft beers these days, given the options in our city, province and beyond, but Two House makes a mix of good beers such as the Prvni pilsner (I love a Czech beer any time I can get it), Simon Sais Saison and a happily fruity raspberry pie sour. Perhaps none would win an award based on the palates of craft-beer aficionados, but they do the trick just fine for an unpretentious gathering. For added measure, Two House also offers chocolate milk on tap.
Looking beyond the beer and the airy room, which is brimming with natural light thanks to huge windows and two garage doors that open up to a generously sized west patio, the pizza is arguably the star of the experience here.
Acme’s head pizzamaker, Avdyl Agolli, takes a relatively traditional approach to dough making, but couples tradition with often-clever topping combinations to pique taste buds.
An ambitious menu features 17 pizza options and a small smattering of side dishes such as marinated olives, beer nuts made by its associated business Gwailo, in Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood, and a flatbread and dip trio.
The flatbread, which is untopped pizza dough roasted and cut into pieces and served with a creamy-smooth white bean dip, tomato bruschetta and marinara, is an easy way to start a meal.
The bruschetta arrives as an equal mix of diced tomato, onion, chopped anchovies and capers. Anchovies and capers should be used sparingly and, unfortunately, this bruschetta offered a day’s salt intake in a small spoonful.
The plethora of pizza options calls out for a group visit or at least a few trips to get a good taste of the doughy, cheesy spectrum on offer. Regardless of what you order, the crust always winds up wonderfully chewy and just salty enough with a consistency over my three visits that was impeccable.
The top of the list is the saporita. A lovely combination of a walnut cream base, gorgonzola dolce, mozzarella, prosciutto parma and wisps of pecorino, it is appropriately salty, indulgent and lightly funky.
Perhaps most surprisingly impressive is Acme’s chicken alfredo option with its generous chunks of juicy roast meat in an alfredo sauce studded with bacon and topped with gooey mozzarella, chopped parsley and a healthy amount of cracked black pepper.
A chicken alfredo pizza seems like something that should not be made by a pizzaiolo and rather something one may find at Boston Pizza, but I challenge you to order it and not feel joyfully satiated.
The funghi pizza is tasty – albeit fairly predictable, though there’s no point in reinventing the wheel here – being topped with fistfuls of arugula. The pizzeria’s take on Hawaiian (ananascosta) with capicola, thin slices of pineapple and a seemingly unseasoned jalapeno “salsa” could use a bit more acidity, so we chalk this up to an off day.
In stark contrast to the craveworthy pizzas is the eternally disappointing Caesar salad. With a taste resembling a dumped-out-and-quickly-tossed Costco bagged salad, its $18 price tag feels like a bit of a slap in the face to its tabletop mates.
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